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June 2018

A Checklist to Elevate the Science of Surgical Database Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Surgery and Public Health and Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Deputy Editor, JAMA Surgery
  • 3Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
  • 4Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill
  • 5Editor, JAMA Surgery
JAMA Surg. 2018;153(6):505-507. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.0628

Each year, JAMA Surgery receives hundreds of submissions that retrospectively analyze large surgical databases. Although many of these attempt to shed light on new and important questions, most do not get published. A majority of submissions are not even sent out for peer review because they have clear flaws in the data analytic techniques or they attempt to address a research question that cannot be adequately answered with the proposed data set. Of those that are sent out for peer review, many are recommended to be rejected by expert peer reviewers as they find major methodological flaws in the use of these otherwise powerful data sets. Articles that are published frequently come from a select group of investigators who have developed a mastery of specific data sets and the analytic techniques required to truly harness their potential.

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